Sunday, July 5, 2020


It's official - India's Tata Group has reached out to Geely and BMW to discuss a rescue package for the premium British brands.

I have watched with alarm, as JLR invested in new models, restyles, facelifts, new powertrains, electric vehicles, a range of new tech innovations, and re-structuring its model ranges. Tata has poured huge amounts of money into all these activities, all predicated on continuing improvement in sales results, and stable profit margins.

Even before the impact of COVID-19, the global automotive business model was suffering from hiccups. Smaller companies began to find it harder and harder to compete - and even harder raising investment funds to execute their current business plans, let alone provide for all the new developments every car company will have to make as we head toward an uncertain future for conventional vehicles.

Throw in the pandemic and it's anyone's guess what survival will look like ten years from now.

And, before you start thinking about EVs, Fuel Cell Vehicles, Hybrids and autonomous vehicles, let's squash one theory right now.

Despite all the brave talk from politicians, bankers, venture capital fund managers, scientists and environmentalists the investments needed to fund this hazy, new high-tech future is simply not going to happen as soon as everyone expects, because the car industry will be too busy trying to save itself, and the millions of jobs that exist on the periphery of the industry.

All the really sensible people in the car business know that the Internal Combustion Engine has centuries of life ahead of it, because of very low continuing investments, improving fuel efficiency and lowering emissions. There is truly no need to rush into new tech until the future path becomes clearer.

Global car sales 2010-2020

It's more than likely that the consolidation of the industry will come first as brands are swallowed up. Some, like Jaguar Land Rover may not even survive that process. The British luxury companies may have done well since Tata Group acquired them, but in global sales terms it's still a small fish, the future plans it has revealed will require daunting levels of investment.

Get ready for some famous brands to simply disappear.

John Crawford

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